Acknowledging the Wayside on the A-Side
It’s been almost six months since we here at Bonus Cut last updated our website. In those six months a lot has happened, both internally and externally. I can’t speak 100% for Gus, but what I can say is that since April, through changes and happenings and despite our lack of web action, we here at Bonus Cut have been keeping ourselves in-tune with the goings on. As we are both taking on new and exciting challenges with our careers, not a day goes by where we haven’t somewhat thought about the day where we continue the work we started back in 2012.
I consider this post to be more of a snippet of where we’re at circa September, 2015, and less of an official post, though technically speaking, this is our first post in half-a-year. For our loyal readers out there that might catch this post on our Facebook page, or somewhere on the interwebs, I want to thank you for reading this. Our mission has always been to create some sort of space where we can come together as a community and discuss, plan, and organize the things that truly matter, and I felt at this random moment in time I needed to recognize you all.
Even as I type this, I’m getting emotional, and perhaps this is something I’m putting a little too much into, especially considering here in Chicago it’s midnight and I have to be on my way to school in five hours. But then again, maybe this is why I felt the need to address Bonus Cut now, in this exact moment.
I don’t think I’ve ever shared aspects of my life outside of Bonus Cut, because for me that’s something that’s never really crossed my mind. That said, in regards to the last six months and our ongoing hiatus here at Bonus Cut, I feel like sharing.
Since January of 2014, I’ve been here in Chicago, specifically the Albany Park, Humboldt Park, Englewood, and South Lawndale neighborhoods. Last August I started a service year working at TEAM Englewood High School, in the Englewood Community. There I was in a 9th grade Algebra and Reading Workshop class collaborating with freshmen before, during, and after school. This year I’m managing a team of individuals doing the same thing at Saucedo Elementary in the Little Village/South Lawndale Community. I mention this because if you’re a follower of Bonus Cut, you might have noticed a decrease in posts around the time I started this program. In fact, Gus did the same program as well, except he was working in Detroit.
Bonus Cut was never something we wanted to push to the side, but regarding our work and what needed to be done, we felt that prioritization of tasks and action steps in our day-to-day lives would inevitably lead to a decrease in posts. I write here tonight letting you all know that:
- We recognize this and we never had the intention to fully disembark from this adventure.
- Everything is good on our end, and we want to somehow bring back a space where we can all collaborate as a community.
- And this post here by no means ends our hiatus from regularity, but merely recognizes that it’s been a hell of a long time and that our goal is to someday get our space back onto a consistent platform.
FLIP THE RECORD; HERE’S THE B-SIDE
Completely flipping the switch, I wanted to share some things with you.
I have a friend here in Chicago, and he runs a real cool hip-hop weblog. It’s more than just another hip-hop site though. As he takes you through weekly podcast discussions on the latest “must-listens” and self-created hip-hop lists such as “10 Songs About Katrina,” Sweet As the Scratch puts hip-hop into a unique lens that delves into the detail that makes the culture the mass movement that it is. Check out the link below or click on the hyperlink above.
If you know me, you’d know that I’m a big fan of Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era. This fandom is so real that when I found out one of my coworkers from Brooklyn went to high school with the PE Crew and knows them personally, I couldn’t do anything but salivate and ask him a million questions. Call me an ignorant fanboy, but through all of my stupid questions I promise there’s sincerity behind it all. If you really really know me, you’d know that I’m also a big fan of Korean music, but even more so, Korean hip-hop. As a kid growing up in middle school struggling with identity, hip-hop was something I turned to real quickly and never let go. I never really felt like I belonged anywhere until mid-way through college, and in grade school as I slowly created invisible walls between myself and a lot of my peers, hip-hop was there, offering refuge to not just me, but other outcasts and idealists caught in a world so uniquely shaped by action and nothingness at the same time. One huge factor that helped me come to senses with who I was as a person, my background, and my culture was Korean hip-hop, and more specifically a group called Epik High. Their lead MC, Tablo, was someone I truly admired. He was a “straight out of Seoul” MC that idolized 90s hip-hop such as Nas–on Epik High’s song “I Remember,” they sample “Memory Lane”–and also ran things his own way, with own style. I remember distinctly listening to their song “Love Love Love” and thinking how incredibly cheesy yet impactful it was for me.
So why am I rambling about this stuff? Well, a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a song called “Hood,” produced by Code Kunst, with Joey Bada$$ and, well, Tablo. I still don’t think I’ve gotten over this collaboration, because to be completely honest, I never could have imagined Joey teaming up with two Korean artists on a song with both English and Korean being spoken. For me, this is a special track. On one end there’s Joey, an MC that’s five years younger than I, whom I admire greatly, and have for years. And then there’s Tablo, a Korean legend that helped me dig deep and find myself.
With all nostalgia and emotion aside, “Hood” also speaks sincerely, displaying a unique look into the Korean experience as it’s contrasted closely with Joey’s verse and the black American experience.
“‘Han’ is the name we gave to struggle and pain,” Tablo slings to open the first verse. “This river, runs through our city like it runs through our veins.”
It’s hard not to see Tablo’s mastery behind the pen and pad here. Always a master of double entendres and witty wordplay, he digs into emotions with his opener, as he addresses the cultural concept of “Han,” a feeling of oppression resulting from exposure to foreign invasions through Korea’s history. “Han” also refers to the river that runs through Seoul, running through the city just like the cultural concept runs through it’s peoples veins.
What I find most unique about this track is the interplay between Joey and Tablo during the bridge. Exchanging bars in English and Korean, I can do nothing but smile and nod:
Joey: Good lord help me
Tablo: 힙겹지만 곧 행복이 되겠지 (it’s hard but happiness will come soon)
Joey: Good lord help me
Tablo: 두렵지만 곧 행복이 되겠지 (I’m afraid but happiness will come soon)
Check out the track for yourself below.
I’m in a Black Milk mood.
Also, thank you Mick Jenkins. Continue to talk all that jazz.
Finally, I have a random ass track I want to share that I believe we here at Bonus Cut have discussed before. The track is called “Hard To Choose” by Rapsody. The reason why I’m sharing this track again is because a couple of days ago while listening to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly for the thousandth time, I slowly realized how prime it is Rapsody is featured on the album. Rapsody is definitely one of those class-act, dope on bars MCs that has worked hard on the grind since day one, and it makes me happy as a fan to 1) see her continue to work on the material that matters with the artists that matter and 2) gain exposure through one of the most influential and important artists of our time while retaining everything that makes her who she is. Feels. Enjoy. Gracias.